Helping International Students Succeed: Improving the Post Graduation Work
Permit Program for International Students
OPINION-EDITORIAL BY THE HONOURABLE DIANE FINLEY, P.C., M.P.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of announcing our government> '> s
plan to expand the post-graduate work permit program as a step towards
building a stronger Canada. Today, some 150,000 international students
are getting Canadian work experience and are building lasting
relationships, while adapting to the Canadian way of life > -> and they
possess all the ingredients for success as newcomers.
Since taking leadership in 2006, our government has welcomed more foreign students. The top three source countries of international students to Canada were The Republic of Korea, The People> '> s Republic of China, and France. Between 2005 and 2006, the increase in students from these countries was 1,795, 1,736, and 685 respectively, as compared to 278, 294 and 123 between 2004 and 2005. In Toronto, the top three source countries for 2006 were The Republic of Korea, the People> '> s Republic of China, and India. We are fortunate that these international students choose Canada as their location of choice. Their success is in fact the success of all Canadians.
This is why it was so important to ensure that international students
receive the opportunities that they deserve, in gaining work experience
and in building a fulfilling environment for themselves. We all know that
gaining work experience while getting an education is a challenging task.
Combined with a new environment, and in many cases, a new language, this becomes even more challenging. But this is the context in which
international students thrive.
Prior to our government> '> s changes, most international graduates were eligible only for one or two-year work permits. In many cases, just as
they began to settle into Canada, their permits would expire > -> and
when this would happen, their skills, their relationships in Canada, and
their invaluable contributions to our local communities would be placed on
the backburner. Our government does not want international students to
leave. We want to give them the opportunity to call Canada home
permanently, by giving them more options to put into place the skills that
they have acquired here.
So, as of this week, most international students who graduate with a
Canadian diploma or degree will be eligible to apply for an open work
permit that is valid for three years. Graduates will no longer have to
receive a job offer in order to obtain a work permit.
Also importantly, the job will not have to be in the students> '> field
of study. Through this significant change, international students will no
longer have to feel the anxiety of finding a job within their field in
order to gain work experience in Canada. Just like al> l other Canadian
graduates, international students are key contributors to the social and
economic fabric of our local communities > -> and they deserve various
options, just like their counterparts, in gaining work experience.
Later this year, our government will be implementing a new avenue of
immigration called the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Through this new
program, certain international students with Canadian degrees and skilled
work experience will also be able to apply for permanent residence from
within Canada, as opposed to traveling to their source country to apply
for the same.
Our great country was built by newcomers. Year after year, wave after
wave, newcomers and their talents have been a source of our nation's
strength. We want newcomers to join us and we want them to become
successful Canadians. I am more than glad that international students will
now have the ability to thrive within a more welcoming Canadian milieu.
The Hon. Diane Finley, P.C., M.P.
Canada ' s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration